5 Easy Ways to Amp Up Your Activity

These simple exercises can help you control diabetes. Every bit you do helps your body defeat diabetes, stave off heart disease and get fitter and leaner!

Maria Lissandrello

1. Step it up—just a little!
Taking a walk? Every five minutes break into a “sprint” for one minute. The mini-burst of intense activity is enough to turbo-charge calorie burn and melt off nearly 40% more fat, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. And a study in the American Journal of Cardiology says it improves the heart health of people who have coronary artery disease. Tip: Prefer to swim, jog or bike ride? Apply the same principle to your favorite activities.

2. Stretch it out.
Spending 10 to 15 minutes a day on some gentle stretching doesn’t just enhance muscle flexibility; it may also make your arteries more pliable, according to a study of folks 40 and older in the journal Heart and Circulatory Physiology. Self-test: Sit on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you, toes pointing up and reach toward your toes. The closer you can get, the more flexible your cardiac arteries.

3. Get on your feet.
Have a desk job? New research published in the European Heart Journal says taking frequent breaks—even as short as one minute—can help raise HDL (good) cholesterol, lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation and shrink your waist. The next time the phone rings, stand to take the call, visit a coworker instead of sending an email and fill glasses—not big bottles—with water to increase your trips to the watercooler. Breaking up periods of prolonged sitting is important even for folks who exercise regularly.

4. Wear one of these:
A pedometer! According to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, wearing the step-counting device can motivate people to take an extra 2,000 steps a day—about a mile.

5. Pick Fido over your friend.
Walking a dog may keep you stepping livelier than strolling with a buddy. Among the benefits: Dog walkers are more committed and consistent. Plus, according to a University of Missouri study of older adults, those who walk with pooches are more likely to stop using canes and walkers.

April 2013